"Today is important because it shows we will not be silent," one activist said
Lebanese women hold the images of missing loved ones as they rally outside the National Museum which stood along the demarcation line known as the "Green Line" marking the division between east and west Beirut on November 17. Some 300 people rallied on Saturday to remember 17,000 people who disappeared during Lebanon's 15-year civil war, and called for action on behalf of the victims' familie. © Anwar Amro - AFP
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AFP
Last updated: November 17, 2012

Beirut rally remembers civil war missing

Some 300 people rallied on Saturday to remember 17,000 people who disappeared during Lebanon's 15-year civil war, and called for action on behalf of the victims' families, organisers and participants said.

"Today is important because it shows we will not be silent," said activist and artist Zeina Daccache.

"We need to inform young Lebanese of the crimes that took place during the war. We should not stop talking, because if we do this will send a message that we have given up on truth."

The rally came on the 30th anniversary of the first gathering in Beirut on November 17, 1982 of families of disappeared, said Act for the Disappeared president Justine Di Mayo.

Participants marched along a route linking the city's Mathhaf area, where many disappearances took place, to three neighbourhoods where the state has recognised the presence of mass graves.

The march was organised following a two-week campaign aimed at raising awareness on the issue, Di Mayo told AFP.

"It is clear that young people in particular were interested in the campaign, because in just two weeks, more than 10,000 people clicked 'like' on our Facebook page," she said.

Little has been done to investigate the high number of enforced disappearances during the 1975-1990 war that left more than 150,000 people dead, or bring redress to the families.

Few efforts were made to reconcile a deeply divided society or raise awareness about the horrors of war, and armed clashes frequently erupt in hot spots in the multi-confessional country.

"Despite that, I think there is a real interest among the youth to know more about the disappeared, which they have heard so little about," said Di Mayo.

"The issue also unites people, because the disappeared come from across the political and sectarian spectrum. All sides were involved in 'disappearing' people during the war."

One participant believed that unless civil war crimes are investigated and the perpetrators face justice, the chances of another such conflict remain high.

"Every day, it feels to me like a new war is on the verge of breaking out here," said Hossam Mishaymesh, a 35-year-old photographer.

"I didn't lose anyone during the war, but I know many people who did. Their pain remains just as fresh today as it was when they first lost their loved ones.

"All Lebanese young people need to know about how awful the war was so that it doesn't happen again."

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